The Q&A

David Anders: Turning Japanese

As the legendary samurai warrior Takezo Kensei on ''Heroes,'' the American actor not only has to pretend to be British — again — but he's got to deal with Hiro's hero worship.

DAVID ANDERS as hero Takezo Kensei
DAVID ANDERS as hero Takezo Kensei

Our favorite I'm-Not-A-Brit-But-I-Play-One-On-TV actor is at it again — and this time, he's also speaking Japanese. As we saw in the first two explosive episodes of Heroes, Anders (you may remember him as Sark on Alias) plays Takezo Kensei, the legendary samurai who is nowhere near as noble as Hiro imagined. Maybe the phrase ''drunken con-man'' is more apt. Read on to learn what he thinks about being the whitest warrior in feudal Japan.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did Heroes enter your life?
DAVID ANDERS: (laughs) How did it enter my life?

Okay, I'll be less dramatic. How did you get this part?
They wanted to see a drunken Englishman so I came in with my Peter O'Toole.

What interested you in Heroes?
Work. Also, Greg Grunberg had really pumped it up to me and made it sound like the raddest show.

When they told you the role was for Hiro Nakamura's mythic descendent, did you find it humorous that you're not, well, Japanese?
Not humorous so much as frustrating. Japanese is a very difficult language. But of course it's humorous. I'm dressed in samurai armor every day. I'm running through burning villages and taking out my sword and doing things with it. (laughs)

What's your character like?
He is an Englishman (switches to English accent) who came over on the feudal trade vessels that the emperor let pass and he stayed on to find his fortune. He came up with the name Takezo Kensei, because people are more apt to run from you when you have a good, fierce, fearful name. And he's not the hero that Hiro thought he was.

Is ''Turning Japanese'' your new theme song?
That's what my Japanese coach says after I say something right. (in Japanese accent) ''Goood, I think you're turning Japanese.'' And one day, after four hours of Japanese training, I get into my car and my iPod had been on shuffle and, sure enough, Oingo Boingo is playing.

So you speak Japanese on the show?
I do, yeah. (Says something in Japanese.)

What did you just say?
It means, ''I need to pee.'' But I just did, so that's a lie. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not convincing as an American.

What it's like wearing the samurai costume?
Hot. It's 40 pounds of armor. I've never been more exhausted in my whole life from acting. It's not as bad as I imagine a fat suit being — like Mike Myers in Austin Powers. At least I don't need a colostomy bag and a catheter.

What's it like working with Masi Oka?
We have fun together. The only way you can keep from going crazy in armor out in the very hot, hot sun is to pretend like you're drunk.

Finally, you're a series regular — but at some point this season, one would presume Hiro will go back to the present. Is your character going to go with him?
(In his British accent) I cannot disclose that.

Want more Heroes? Take our interactive quiz to answer the question Which Hero Are You? And don't miss EW's Ultimate Heroes Fan Guide, where you can join with other members of the Heroes community to fill in new details of season 2.

Originally posted Oct 04, 2007